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NBA Preview from The Sports Network



Friday, December 20th (All times Eastern)

Toronto Raptors (9-14) at Dallas Mavericks (15-10), 8:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Mavericks have played good basketball of late and will try to continue the surge Friday when they finish off a homestand with the Toronto Raptors in town.

The Mavs are 2-0 on this little stay in Big D with wins over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday and a 105-91 victory Wednesday versus the slumping Memphis Grizzlies.

Dallas has taken five of its last seven and during that stretch, allowed opponents 100 points or more just twice. During these seven games in the month of December, the Mavs are holding teams to an average of 96.6 points per game.

"In the month of December we've been better defensively, and our goal is to stay on that track," head coach Rick Carlisle said Thursday after practice. "We've spent the majority of our practice time on defense. We know how important it is, and we're just going to be vigilant about it. It's not something that you can take days off from. You can't take days off from the mental edge aspect of it, and we know that."

The Mavericks held the Grizzlies to just a shade under 40 percent shooting from the field on Wednesday. Dallas lost the rebounding battle by one, but shot almost 55 percent.

Dirk Nowitzki paced five Dallas players in double figures with 20. Monta Ellis finished with 18, followed by 14 from Vince Carter, 12 from Jose Calderon and 10 out of Shawn Marion.

The Mavs play five of their next six on the road.

The Raptors begin a brutal trek on Friday with stops in Oklahoma City, San Antonio and New York after this stop against Dallas.

Toronto was 3-1 since Rudy Gay was agreed to be traded, but lost a heartbreaker on Wednesday. The Raptors fell 104-102 in overtime, at home, to the Charlotte Bobcats.

Charlotte's Kemba Walker buried a 15-foot jumper at the horn to get the victory.

DeMar DeRozan was the high-scorer in the game with 30 points, while Kyle Lowry added 17. John Salmons chipped in 11 off the bench and Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson both finished with 10 points. Johnson added 13 rebounds.

It was another tough loss for a young team with new parts.

"I love the challenge of coaching young players, I enjoy that," head coach Dwane Casey said after practice on Thursday. "I enjoy winning more, but I understand where we are."

The Mavs, who are 11-2 in American Airlines Center, have won 12 of their last 13 against the Raps at home.

12/20 10:24:21 ET